The company, which had been known for many years as the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation, has been a driving force and mainstay of the Hampton Roads business community. Today, as one of the largest private employers in the region, BAE Systems is a leading provider of ship maintenance and modernization to the U.S. Navy, other government agencies, and commercial customers.
At the April 18th event, senior leaders recognized the shipyard’s employees as the cornerstone of the company’s success, and local officials thanked the workforce for keeping Norfolk a busy and vibrant port. Attendees included U.S. Representatives Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman.
“This is a great day for BAE Systems, but it would not be possible without the continuing support and commitment of our employees,” said Dave Thomas, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair. “Our nation’s sailors and ships have the competitive edge in battle thanks to their efforts. We’re extremely proud of their service and of those who preceded them in this shipyard over the last 100 years.”
The company was first formed by the merger of three competitive shipyards at a time when the new age of steam-driven and steel-hulled ships was in its infancy. When World War I made the region one of the nation’s busiest ports, the shipyard began to expand.
An Apprentice School was established in 1936 to develop a well-trained, highly-skilled workforce and a ready source of capable supervisory personnel. On the eve of World War II, the company was contacted by the U.S. Navy to build a modern shipyard facility in the Berkley area of Norfolk. It was designed to dry dock and repair ocean-going vessels of all types and to handle expected battle damage to cruisers, jeep aircraft carriers, troop transports, and other large ships. Employment peaked at the height of the war.
After a series of ownership changes, the shipyard joined BAE Systems in 2005. Today, the company employs approximately 2,200 people and encompasses 109 acres along the southern branch of the Elizabeth River. The facility maintains two dry docks, one of which is the largest floating dry dock on the East Coast, plus four piers and 16 cranes.
The Apprentice Program has been operating continuously since 2004 and has graduated nearly 1,000 welders, electricians, riggers, and ship fitters, many of whom have become supervisors, managers, and senior leaders with the company. The shipyard is a trusted partner of the Navy and has been recognized as a leader in safety and environmental stewardship.
BAE Systems is a leading provider of ship repair, maintenance, modernization, conversion, and overhaul for the Navy, other government, commercial, and private customers. The company operates seven full-service shipyards in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia, and Hawaii, and offers a highly skilled and experienced workforce of more than 5,000 employees, eight dry docks, and significant pier space and ship support services. The company also has commercial shipbuilding and module fabrication capabilities at its Mobile, Alabama, and Jacksonville, Florida, shipyards.